by Cerise Jacobs
REV. 23 or Revelation 23, is the hypothetical, fantastical hitherto unpublished last chapter of the Book of Revelation, if St. John the Divine had written a 23rd chapter. (Right now, the Bible ends at Revelation chapter 22.) So, REV. 23 is set in the period after the End Times or Eschaton, the final event in the divine plan, the end of the world as we know it. A whole body of work has grown up around the study of Eschatology, defined as that part of “theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind.” This is complex esoteric stuff, intimidating even the stoutest heart. So, what do we have when we combine Eschatology and Opera? Something heavy and scary, some may say, and not at all conducive to an evening of entertainment.
Let me disabuse you of this right now: REV. 23 skips past all the debates and philosophizing about Eschaton for the show starts after the end of the world has happened. It's not depressingly dystopian because Paradise has come upon the Earth, the dead have been resurrected in the renewed Garden of Eden. It is endless summer - winter, want, despair, pain, suffering, hunger, envy, strife, war, starvation, sickness and darkness has been banished from this world of eternal light and beauty. Milk and honey flow in the rivers and manna rains from Heaven. It is PERFECTION.
Now, utopia can also be boring in its own fashion to an audience, for how much unmitigated light and happiness can we tolerate? Insert a subversive duo – none other than Lucifer and his sidekick, Hades - into this utopia, and the fireworks begin. We watch the dynamic duo plot their return to Paradise-on-Earth to overthrow the powers-that-be and store the balance of good and evil to our world and concomitantly, human beings to their flawed greatness.
Since neither Lucifer nor Hades can penetrate the ring of fire surrounding the deepest pit of hell into which they've been cast by the Archangel Michael, they recruit Hades erstwhile “girlfriend” Persephone to get them out of the pit. You remember her? She was abducted by Hades who was smitten by her and sentenced to spend six months in hell with him every year. She's the only being that has the mandate of the gods to pass freely between hell and the world above. They also recruit the master strategist, Sun Tze, the author of the “Art Of War,” the earliest and greatest treatise on how to make war. Not surprisingly, Sun Tze is a permanent resident of Hell, a punishment for his part in bringing the misery of war to the world. Sun Tze counsels that a frontal assault on Paradise is doomed to failure. He drags out his store of old Apple iPods, iPhones, iPads, books, movies etc and tells them to infect the citizenry of Paradise with knowledge: Let them take a bite of the proverbial Apple all over again, except this Apple is not a fruit, but technology which enables us all to derive knowledge.
So off they go with the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge to infect those in Paradise-on-Earth, a madcap romp which keeps us all in suspense and in stitches.